Collegedale Commissioners have approved a half million dollar expenditure in the 2014-2015 budget for replacing and updating Imagination Station, a playground behind city hall. Several residents of the city came to the commission meeting Monday night asking for the existing playground to be left intact.
Cynthia James Catalano made a presentation of reasons to keep Imagination Station the way it is. The playground is now made of wood with a sand base versus the new plastic equipment which would have mostly impact absorbing foam rubber flooring for safety and accessibility.
Ms. Catalano presented research to show the benefits of keeping the wood and a list gleaned from the Internet of negative comments people have made online concerning the new play park. She told the commissioners that the community does not feel like it had any input and does not want it to change. Imagination Station is scheduled to close Sept. 2 once most children have returned to school.
Vice Mayor Tim Johnson said it is unfortunate that people who are opposed do not come to the commission meetings or contact city officials but instead just comment online.
Commissioner Larry Hanson added that maybe Ms. Catalano is in the minority because those in opposition could be the most vocal. The residential location of people that have commented on Facebook is unknown, and Collegedale has no obligation except to its own taxpayers, said Mayor John Turner.
Commissioner Debbie Baker said whatever is done will be AD compliant with the goal of meeting everyone’s needs in a safe environment. The surveys that have been done so far involve talking to people at the playground who are actually using it to determine what they like or do not like.
The mayor told Ms. Catalano that the project is being readied to go out for bid and when the winner of the project is decided there would be public meetings for input. The equipment manufacturer will be at the meetings to listen. “I encourage people to participate,” said Mayor Turner, adding, “Wait until you hear facts. Don’t make assumptions.” Residents should contact the city with questions, he said.
In regular business, approval was given on the second and final reading of the revised ordinance which will reduce the occupancy tax from five to four percent on hotel stays or any housing that is provided for transients in return for payment.
Jo Ann Stanfield, Collegedale library director, received approval from the commission to apply for a matching grant for library technology. If the grant is received, five laptop computers and an Ipad will be bought. This would allow the library to give classes in computer technology. Ms. Stanfield also reported that the summer reading program had 1,368 participants of all ages this year compared to 1,204 last summer.
The Ooltewah / Collegedale Lions Club will be holding a free vision screening for children ages one to five years. This will take place at the library on Aug. 22 from 10 a.m. until noon. No pre-registration will be necessary.
The Lions Club has also put a box at the library to collect used eyeglasses. These are distributed world-wide through world missions after being refurbished.